The Spectacle Blog
KUWAIT CITY:We spent about half the day yesterday at the Iraqi military academy about fifty miles from Baghdad. It's a tough place, and not just for the curriculum. More on this later. The bus to the plane is leaving in about two minutes, so I'll have to be brief. We saw a lot at the IMA that was encouraging. Motivated students, a great faculty and if they can keep things going they will help transform all of Iraq.
The C-130 carrying us back to Kuwait City last night had two very special passengers. Two American soldiers -- one man and one woman -- who had been killed in action lay in flag-draped coffins along the aircraft centerline. On landing in Kuwait, we waited until they were about to be taken off, and stood in line with the soldiers saluting them as they were taken off the aircraft. Let's remember them and their families. These two, and more than 2,000 others, have made the ultimate sacrifice in this war. Now is no time to quit. The Iraqis don't want us to leave until the job is done. It isn't yet.
You know, John, now that you mention it, he does overdramatize, but I think that's a necessary consequence of geek memory. What I take most issue with is his reference to BBSes as havens for the oppressed -- suppressed is more likely; people with a computer and a modem had a leap on others, and the understanding of how it worked even more so. I don't recall too much of a scintillating underground, such as the , but I was raised in Stamford. No doubt, Julian and his hax0r (hacker) friends were clearly into more interesting boards.
I never had that Damascus experience Julian's talking about -- I doubt others did. When we first started dialing into these things, we were poking around thinking we were really smart for getting those kinds of sounds out of our computer. Sure, John, you may have created your own, but did you suddenly feel as though God had struck you dumb, your metanoia allowed you a new identity?
Working at Liberty was often terrible -- Doherty's line about it being "more like being manservant to a wealthy eccentric than a journalism intern" is dead on. And I did the job very poorly, ultimately quitting midway through my internship with an email. But the long conversations with Bill were well worth the experience. He was a walking encyclopedia of the internal wranglings within the libertarian movement; he knew everybody, and had their number. (Murray Rothbard did not invent libertarianism in his living room!) I'm very, very glad to have known him, and sad to hear that he's gone. My condolences especially to his wonderful wife Kathy.
BAGHDAD AND CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Sorry this is a bit late folks, but this old man was pretty beat last night. We had dinner with Gen. George Casey, the overall commander, late last night. It's now about 0730 in Baghdad and we're leaving shortly to visit the Iraqis' army-in-training.
Their army in training is only a small part of what Iraq is doing to defend itself. Their active army is, as I saw yesterday, something in being. Note to Dr. Dean: you're not needed at home, but the docs in the hospital I visited yesterday can always use a couple of extra hands. Those Iraqis you think aren't fighting for themselves are showing up for treatment, and not for runny noses. The guy in the ICU I saw yesterday had been shot in the stomach. Our people (those docs are fabulous) are giving him the same care our people get (except that he won't be evacuated to the States within hours of being hit). Our troops are surviving really grievous wounds because these docs are working endlessly, skillfully, and with the Air Force's support getting patients back to the States often within a day of being wounded.
I actually ran a BBS briefly; it was called A Perfec World, and no one besides me seemed to think that misspelling "perfect" was particularly funny. (I was trying to gently spoof the Zeitgeist -- other local boards were called Elysium and El Dorado -- but I don't think anyone really got the joke.) I also had a soft-spot for the BBS cousin, the DDial; I frequented the legendary Point Zer0 Chat (mentioned in Wikipedia's entry on DDials), though always as a "non" (that is, I never paid the fee to join).
Looking back, I have to say I think Julian over-romanticizes the period just a bit. Some of the really successful boards amounted to the internet writ tiny and reduced to its most adolescent and frivolous core: a raging Mac vs. PC flamewar. There's a reason the Web killed 'em off.
J.P., like any self-respecting nerdy kid I too frequented bulletin board services in the early '90s. Now that I think of it, I've been using the Internet for political debate since 1994, when I frequented local BBS's in Missoula to favor Sen. Conrad Burns in his reelection bid. Otherwise, most services had fun games, etc.
But priests telling folks to gather 'round the computer? Bite your tongue! These are pastors -- men of the cloth but not the collar.